By Caroline Brooks
Drawing from his personal experiences as both a Broad College of Business student and a young entrepreneur, alumnus Larry Gaynor, president and CEO of TNG Worldwide, and his wife, company vice president Teresa Gaynor, gifted the college with $3 million for the Business Pavilion.
The gift will create the Gaynor Entrepreneurship Lab, or GEL, a large, transformative space on the ground floor of the pavilion. The lab will feature flexible space conducive for hosting entrepreneurship-focused business courses, recitation sessions and group work. The facility will be outfitted with the latest technology to give the space a modernized feel and accommodate the needs of today’s entrepreneurial students.
“Entrepreneurship is the backbone of each and every business, and Broad students need to hone the fundamental skills they’ll use during their time on campus and later in their careers,” said Gaynor, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the college in 1977. “The business advice I give to everyone is to find one idea you’re passionate about and pursue it at all costs. This lab will be the place where Spartans take their first step toward achieving their greatest ideas, so it’s critical for students to have access to world-class resources.”
Currently Broad offers its entrepreneurship courses in facilities outside of the business college, and housing it internally will boost productivity for both faculty and students, as well as create opportunities for business students to unleash their creative mindsets. The lab will serve as the home base for entrepreneurial curriculum while also allowing a flexible workspace for students to utilize between classes to receive mentorship, strategize as a team, and move their ideas toward launch.
“Larry’s story and path to success has inspired our current students, and his generosity will empower our emerging innovators for generations to come,” said Sanjay Gupta, the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Dean. “The Gaynor Entrepreneurial Lab represents a huge change and differentiator for the Broad College. Gone are the days where we’re solely teaching in lectures – today, we want students to have a hands-on learning experience and let them design their futures in business and beyond.”
A Michigan native, Gaynor first became involved with the beauty industry by bringing hair care products into the Detroit hardware store he worked in as a teenager. His success spawned Gaynors in 1981, a discount health and beauty store in Farmington Hills, which later housed the professional manicuring supplies company Nailco. Over the years, Nailco transformed to TNG Worldwide, and it grew from a manicure distributor to a leading full-service beauty distributor and manufacturer. Today, TNG manufactures industry-leading brands, with customers including salons, spas, retailers, and distributors.
“Michigan State University supports a thriving culture of innovation and entrepreneurship with deep roots in our land-grant mission,” said university President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Our commitment to the entrepreneurial mindset can be seen in the courses we offer and in the creative spaces we are cultivating for our students. With generosity from alumni and friends like the Gaynors, we are able to continue building a dynamic ecosystem of entrepreneurship that engages students, and allows innovation to define our culture.”
Beyond his business accomplishments, Gaynor inspires his employees and fellow alumni to give back. TNG earned a five-star investor designation with the American Cancer Society for raising more than $2 million, and employees regularly volunteer with the American Red Cross and support Forgotten Harvest Food Pantry.
“One of the best parts of being a successful entrepreneur is the ability to give back to what truly matters,” said Gaynor. “Michigan State is a second home to me, and my vision with the GEL is to help make the Broad College the place where students have the opportunity to learn, engage, network, and understand what business is really all about. I hope that this entrepreneurship lab inspires them, and that fellow alumni are inspired to give back in a similar way.”